No. of Cebu’s minor sex workers drop by 79% since 2006 -- IJM PDF Print E-mail
Monday, 08 November 2010 10:45

CEBU CITY – An international human rights agency that secures justice for slavery, sexual exploitation and other forms of violent oppression reported a 79 percent drop in the number of minor commercial sex workers in Metro Cebu since 2006.

The International Justice Mission (IJM) issued this statement after Judge Soliver Peras of the Regional Trial Court Branch 10 in Cebu City convicted on Oct. 29, a woman for trafficking five girls in Malaysia.

The court found Sarah Jane Estrada guilty of violating Republic Act 9208 or the Anti-Trafficking in Persons Act of 2003, and sentenced her to suffer 20 years imprisonment and a fine of P2 million and a life imprisonment and a fine of P3 million for the two criminal cases.

Peras also issued a warrant of arrest for Roselyn Estrada, sister of Sarah Jane, for the same criminal cases.

Since IJM launched in 2007 its Project Lantern, a campaign against sex trafficking and commercial sex exploitation of children in Metro Cebu, 259 victims of trafficking crimes have been rescued, 77 individuals suspected of trafficking crime shave been arrested, criminal charges have been filed against 107 individuals and two traffickers have been convicted.

The impact assessment they conducted last August also concluded that “at an overall level, Project Lantern’s law enforcement-based approach to combating sex trafficking in Metro Cebu has demonstrated its merit by contributing to significantly enhanced police operations, services to rescued victims, and prosecution of criminals as well as to a public justice system that is increasingly capable and mobilized to crack down on and deter sex traffickers.”

”What once was only an idea is now a reality,” said IJM Cebu field office director Andrey Sawchenko.

”The convictions will turn into an understanding for those people who consider engaging in sex trafficking that they could be jailed for a long time and that they should consider doing something else,” he added.

Evelyn Macapobre, Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) 7 Director, said they faced many challenges before in working for the recovery and reintegration of the victims of sex trafficking. She said the department was understaffed, ill-trained to handle the victims and lacked after-care facilities, but LIJM has helped them develop their capabilities.

In the 1990s, the police can only jail sex traffickers and impose a P500-fine. Thus, law enforcement can not fully fight the problem, head on.

With the anti-human trafficking law in place and strictly enforced, offenders are punished with a lifetime imprisonment and a fine of P2 million, said Police Senior Superintendent Augusto Marquez Jr. of the Police Regional Office 7.

Prosecutor Fernando Gubalane, chief of the Office of the Regional State Prosecutor 7, said Justice Secretary Leila De Lima, during her visit in the city, assured him and the rest of the prosecutors of her full support in the campaign against human trafficking.

”We have a serious campaign against human trafficking,” he said, adding a regional task force on human trafficking is now in place.